Fountain '17

Celebrating 100 years of Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain'
and 200 years of Armitage Shanks
with an architectural sculpture


Photo: Mike Grimbleby,  BGA Photography

Photo: Mike Grimbleby, BGA Photography

In 1917, when Marcel Duchamp put a urinal on display as ‘Fountain’, the intent was not solely to shock: it was also an invitation to examine a fascinating and sensuous sculptural form.

Beep Studio’s sculpture for 'Fountain 17' accepts this invitation by recreating the original object in the sensitive, fragile medium of paper. In order to translate the swooping ceramic into sheet material, the team first had to understand the geometry of the original in order to reassemble it anew.


Following careful geometric analysis of the original ‘Fountain’, a new sculpture evolved through hand sketches, physical paper models, and 3D digital tests. Stages of expansion, healing, mirroring, rippling, and simplification led to a final computer model. From this, a flat pattern was extracted, printed, and transferred to high quality watercolour paper for construction at full scale.

The finished object is both highly specific and somewhat enigmatic. Whilst the point of departure can still be found amongst its many curves, other associations with natural forms might come more easily come to mind. The contrast between the crisp, fragile paper and robust but smoothly flowing porcelain heightens the pleasing tension between form and medium. The proposal continues Beep Studio’s exploration of the sculptural potential of paper and ceramics.

The sculpture was created for 'Fountain '17', a celebration marking the satisfyingly coincidental 100 years since Duchamp's 'Fountain', 200 years of Armitage Shanks, and Hull's status as UK City of Culture 2017.

Full information here